Monday, January 21, 2019

Oxfam's latest report

The planet’s richest people saw their fortunes soar by $2.5 billion per day last year as the world’s poorest lost wealth. 

26 billionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.8 billion people combined.

The number of billionaires has doubled since the global financial crisis of 2008, even as average families have struggled mightily to recover. 

The wealth of the world’s poorest fell by $500 million each day in 2018—an overall decline of 11 percent.

Working with the Border Patrol

"Water is strange"

Friday, January 18, 2019

Is the world ending?

Listening to the tv you might think so. A storm is forecasted to be on its way here on Sunday. And it is pitched as though we in New England have never experienced such a storm. I think the storm caused by the government shutdown or the possibility of Trump's telling Cohen to lie to Congress is much more severe.

Life in Yemen outside the war zone

Monday, January 14, 2019

He also likes mercury

Sunday I wrote a brief post questioning Andrew Wheeler's, the head of the EPA, liking of hamburgers. It looks as though he also likes mercury. which is a quite dangerous pollutant. Most of our mercury comes from the smokestacks of electric companies using coal. In 2012, the EPA took steps to lower the production of mercury by causing power plants to use 'scrubbers' to remove mercury from the emissions before they leave the smokestack. Since the rule went into effect, electric companies have cut mercury emissions by nearly 90 percent, according to the Edison Electric Institute, an industry group.

Mr. Wheeler wants to change this rule by rewriting the way costs and benefits are evaluated. Surprisingly, the nation’s electric utility industry is siding with the EPA since the industry found that implementation cost far less than they had anticipated. Further, since the rule was finalized, the science documenting the severe health impacts of mercury has become even stronger. New studies show that the quantified benefits of reducing mercury are now in the billions of dollars; a study published in the journal Environmental Health in 2017 estimated that the societal costs associated with the neurocognitive deficits from methylmercury exposure in the United States that year was $4.8 billion.

Our president

You really should read this article by Annie Lowrey in the Atlantic.
The president owns a business.
The president owns a business entity composed of roughly 500 other business entities.
The president owns a business entity that he no longer controls, but his sons do.
The president owns a business entity set up to allow him to withdraw funds “at his request.”
The president owns a business entity designed to reduce his tax burden, shift risk, and maximize profits. There is no independent public accounting of the machinations of this business entity, nor do his sons and other company managers answer to a White House ethics board. The company remains a company, meant to make money for the president.
The president is still heavily invested in any number of industries his government regulates, including real estate, tourism, and hospitality. The president passed tax cuts with specific carve-outs for real-estate developers.
The president’s company operates a hotel just a few blocks from the White House. Foreign dignitaries have spent thousands of dollars there, as has his inaugural committee, as have Republican politicians and lobbyists, though there is no complete and transparent accounting available. This translates into additional profits for the president.
The president’s company manages, owns, or operates numerous other hotels. Government agencies have spent thousands of dollars staying at them during his presidency, enriching the president with revenue collected from taxpayers.
The president’s organization has said it donates the profits from “foreign government patronage” at those hotels. It has not identified its customers or provided a detailed accounting of how and how much money it has made from foreign patrons.
Throughout his time in the White House, the president has continued to own shares in a number of individual companies, including Halliburton and Apple. His government taxes and regulates those firms.
The president has business interests in countries around the globe, countries with which he sets trade, security, economic, and diplomatic relations. These include the United Arab Emirates, Canada, India, and Turkey.
The president owns a Florida resort and social club that has become his Camp David. The social club has raised membership prices and sold tickets to events with the promise of access to the president.
The president runs a personal charity. The New York attorney general said she found a “shocking pattern of illegality” there, “including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.” The charity is now dissolving.
The president runs a now-dissolving personal charity that for years donated to other charities, many of them seemingly linked to the president or his businesses. Its largest gift went to restore a fountain outside one of the president’s hotels, and its smallest appears to have paid for one of his sons’ Boy Scouts dues.
The president seeded his investments with inheritances from his father. The president committed tax fraud when inheriting his father’s fortune, an exhaustive New York Times investigation found.
The president’s real-estate projects are alleged or have been found to have misled investors and potential investors. That includes projects in the Dominican Republic, Canada, Panama, and the United States.
The president and his staff members have promoted the president’s personal brand dozens of times.
The president has not sold off controversial investments, foreign investments, investments in industries he now regulates, or investments in businesses that receive payments from the United States government or foreign governments. He is the first modern president to decline to do so.
The president has not put his investments in a blind trust. He is the first modern president with substantial financial interests to decline to do so.
The president has never released his tax returns. He is the first modern president to decline to do so.

He's at it again

John Bolton is trying to foment war. Something he's been doing for most of his career. This time it's war with Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported that he "asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department."

Trump is also after Iran. He has ditched the Iran nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—and reimposed economic sanctions. 

My biggest fear re Trump is that he will start another war.

Paying the boss